Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

POET OF THE RED CLIFF                     199

had it broiled. After we got drunk, we went along eastward from
, the Eastern Slope and went as far as the Spring Grass Pavilion, By
the time we returned, it was already midnight."

A contemporary remarked that, as the Spring Grass Pavilion was
situated outside the city wall, the script bore witness to the fact that
Su Tungpo drank boodeg liquor, killed a farmer's buffalo, and in a
drunken spell climbed back over the city wall after lock-out hour.
•'Was Chunchen, too, perhaps a dubious character?"

On another night trip, he scared the chief magistrate out of his wits.
He was drinking on a boat on the river. The night under the open sky
was beautiful, and he was inspired to sing:

"After a drink at night, Tungpo wakes up and gets drunk again.
By the time I come home it seems to be midnight.
The boy servant is asleep snoring like thunder
And does not answer the door.
Resting on a cane I listen to the murmur of the river
And feel with a pang that I am not master of my own life.
When can I stop this hustling about?
The night is late, the air is calm,
And the water a sheen of unruffled light.
Let me take a small boat down the river hence
To spend beyond the seas the remainder of my days."

.The next day a rumour spread that Su Tungpo had come to the river-
bank, written this poem as a farewell, and sailed down the river and
fled. When the rumour reached the chief magistrate's ears he was
greatly frightened, for it was his responsibility to see that Su did not
leave this district. Immediately he went out and-found the poet was
still asleep and snoring like thunder. This rumour finally spread to
the capital and even reached the ears of the Emperor.

The following year a more serious rumour arose. Su Tungpo had
been suffering from a kind of rheumatism in the arms. Later his right
eye was affected, and for months he shut himself up and was not seen
4Ły anybody. At that time the great prose master Tseng Kung died in
another province, and a rumour spread that Su Tungpo and this other
writer were called back to heaven by God on the same day% The
Emperor heard about it and inquired of a high official, a relative of
Su Tungpo, who replied that he had also heard the'same rumour but
that he did not know for certain what had happened. The Emperor
was about to have his lunch, but could not eat. "It is difficult to find
another such genius," he sighed and left the table. The rumour also
reached Fan Chen, who fell to weeping bitterly and told his family to